How to Format Your Resume to Help in Your Job Search

Most likely, if you’re reading this blog post, you’re already involved in your job search and you’ve put a lot of time and effort already into writing your resume–hours probably.

But did you know that most employers spend less than one minute looking at each resume?

Purdue University’s online writing lab suggests that employers only spend about 35 seconds looking at your resume–that’s it. That’s why it is highly important for you, the job seeker, to think not only about the words and the information you put on your resume, but also the way you format the resume so that any potential bosses can size you up–favorably–in about 35 seconds.

Here are some tips to help you create the dynamic, eye-catching resume you need to land the job you want:

1. Balance the blank space and printed space on your resume. Do this by printing a page and dividing it into quarters–two on the top of the page and two on the bottom. Does each of the four parts have about the same amount of printed area versus plain paper? Purde University recommends putting the information you want to highlight most in the top right square–that’s where readers’ eyes will go first when they look at your resume.

2. Does your layout include columns? If so, use no more than three columns because the reader’s eye will stop after coming to the bottom of each one. If you have more columns, the reader will have more stops, which will eat up the precious 35 seconds they’ll probably be looking at it.

3. Use different fonts and bold, italics or CAPITAL LETTERS carefully. Too many can be confusing for the reader, and not enough can make people’s eyes skip through too quickly, missing important information. Using two fonts is generally considered okay.

4. Enlist one or more friends to look at your resume while you time them for a short period. How much can they remember from your resume after one minute? Thirty seconds? How about 20 seconds? Use this technique to make sure that your most important skills and experience leap off the page for the reader.

Finally, if you aren’t comfortable with writing your own resume or other career marketing documents, consider hiring a professional. Find professional resume writers and career coaches through The National Resume Writers’ Association.

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